Fernando Alonso believes the McLaren MCL32 is not quick enough to score points on “merit” in the season-opening Australian Grand Prix, despite qualifying on the cusp of Top 10.
After two troublesome winter tests in Barcelona, McLaren appeared to be in better shape in Melbourne, with the Woking-based team and its engine parter Honda making a considerable step on the reliability front.
While teammate Stoffel Vandoorne’s qualifying was compromised by a fuel pressure issue, Alonso was able to place his car in 13th place for tomorrow’s race.
However, the Spaniard remains coy on MCL-32’s race pace, saying a Top 10 finish is unlikely unless some of his rivals run into trouble.
“It doesn't matter. Scoring one point, two, five, or being outside the points won't change much for me,” he said. “I want to be on the podium, winning races, and we are not in that position.
“We will do our best tomorrow, but we need help from our rivals as we are not competitive enough to be in the points on merit.”
Speaking of his qualifying performance, Alonso felt he extracted maximum out of the package - but feels there is no reason to celebrate considering McLaren-Honda should be in a far better position in the third year of their partnership.
“I think I extracted the maximum from the car, so I'm happy in that sense. But probably there's nothing to celebrate being 13th,” he said.
“We weren't sure where we were in terms of competitiveness and reliability. Reliability wise we have been able to run more or less without problems and now in qualifying we are 13th. We have to wait a few races to know where we really are, but there's a long way to go.”
by Rachit Thukral